More and more if you want to taken seriously in the fitness apparel space you need an app. Nike has been developing apps in-house for years, Under Armour purchased MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and Endomondo, and Adidas acquired Runtastic. Wanting to keep up with the competition, Asics has snapped up one of the largest remaining fitness apps, Runkeeper. Runkeeper is a veteran iOS app, having been among the first apps in the App Store when the store launched in 2008. While Asics already has a decent (and well liked) app with MY ASICS, it has failed to create the passion, community, and popularity that Runkeeper has. To illustrate this, MY ASICS has approximately 600 reviews on the App Store while Runkeeper has nearly 45,000 reviews and boasts a user base of over 45 million! The acquisition is estimated to be valued at $85 million. Runkeeper founder Jason Jacobs took to Medium to announce the news and stated that app will continue to exist and be developed. For the end-user he expects very little difference except improved resources to allow developers to be bring things to bear that would not have been possible otherwise.
Why are apps and their associated communities becoming more and more important for fitness companies? It think it has to do with teaching people to get more out of their fitness apparel. If you have an app helping you to be a better runner and enjoy the sport more, you are more likely to feel good about your shoes and then purchase more. Besides personal training and golf, very few of us seek guidance to help us become better at a sport. Apps bridge that gap, helping you perform better and become fitter – improving your relationship with your shoes and workout gear.
MY ASICS is an unique app in that it really behaves as a digital coach as much as a run-tracker. It offers adaptive plans to help you achieve a goal time and distance by a set date. Runkeeper on the other hand mostly focuses on broader, longer term goals such as weight loss and increasing your fitness. We would expect that MY ASICS training algorithm will eventually be ported over and added to Runkeeper, leaving the future of Asics branded app in question. Also uncertain is what effect the acquisition might have on Runkeeper’s pay wall. To get anything more than a log of your runs and basic stats, you need to pay $9.99 a month or $39.99 a year; by contrast, the MY ASICS digital coach is free. One can only hope this restriction goes away, or at least becomes less expensive.